Objective: To describe acute care length of stay (LOS) over all consecutive hospitalizations for the injury and according to level of care [intensive care unit (ICU), intermediate care, general ward], compare observed and expected LOS, and identify predictors of LOS.
Background: Prolonged LOS has important consequences in terms of costs and outcome, yet detailed information on LOS after trauma is lacking.
Methods: This multicenter retrospective cohort study was based on adults discharged alive from a Canadian trauma system (1999–2010; n = 126,513). Registry data were used to calculate index LOS (LOS in trauma center with highest designation level) and were linked to hospital discharge data to calculate total LOS (all consecutive hospitalizations for the injury). Expected LOS was obtained by matching general provincial discharge statistics to study data by year, age, and sex. Potential predictors of LOS were evaluated using linear regression.
Results: Mean index and total LOS were 8.6 and 9.4 days, respectively. ICU, intermediate care unit, and general ward care constituted 8.9%, 2.5%, and 88.6% of total hospital days. Observed mean index and ICU LOS in our trauma patients were 2.9 and 1.3 days longer than expected LOS (P < 0.0001). The strongest determinants of index LOS were discharge destination, age, transfer status, and injury severity.
Conclusions: Results suggest that acute care LOS after injury is underestimated when only information on the index hospitalization is used and that ICU or intermediate care constitute an important part of LOS. This information should be used to inform the development of an informative and actionable quality indicator.